How to Write an Effective Resume
As part of the Performance Education Professional Year program, students undertake a 12 week Work Integrated Learning placement organised by Readygrad, which gives them practical experience in their nominated field of study. Before the placement, students learn how to prepare a resume which potential host companies can review.
A few months into your Professional Year program, one of the most exciting times will begin: In a few months you will be starting your Work Integrated Learning placement. Your Placement Consultant and the Readygrad team will support you all along the process to ensure you get the best placement possible. However, the quality of your placement will ultimately be the result of the work you will have invested in writing your resume and in preparing for the interview(s).
It is entirely based on your resume that the host companies will decide to offer you an interview (or not!) and each time you could be competing with 5 to 7 other students. The best resumes will win the interview and have a better chance of winning the placement opportunity.
You will find below some recommendations for writing an effective resume.
At the top of your resume, you should include your contact details.
- What must be included: Name, Email, Phone Number
- What can be included: Address, LinkedIn profile
- What must not appear: Photo, gender, date of birth, marital status, nationality, visa status
Career Objective/Personal Profile
This part should be written in the form of a paragraph (4 to 5 lines) and should include the following information:
- Who are you? What did you graduate in? From which university? In which field do you have experience in (including customer service)?
- Which type of placement are you looking for? What will this placement bring to you? What are your career goals?
- What can you bring to the placement position or host company? This could be soft skills.
Your main industry-related skills and knowledge should be listed here as bullet points. Make sure you only list the skills/knowledge you feel very confident with; the interviewers may test you on these during the interview. Ask yourself how you would rate yourself for each skill/knowledge on a scale of 1 to 10. You should only put down the skills/knowledge where your level of expertise reaches at least 7/10.
This part should not include your soft skills, which will be listed later in your resume.
This is the format that you should follow to list your qualifications:
Title of Degree
University, City, Country
MONTH/YEAR - MONTH/YEAR
(Start and end date of your program)
Achievements, only for high distinctions or distinctions – credit averages need not be mentioned.
If you do not have work experience in your field, you should include a university project. Keep in mind that if you are offered an interview, you will probably be asked detailed questions about the project, so make sure that you are able to talk about it. Do not forget to include the title of the project and the name of the university where you did it. If you completed many projects, choose one or two projects that are most relevant to the type of placement you will be applying for.
Any recent placement or work experience should be mentioned and thoroughly described. This includes work experience that is not related to your industry, which demonstrates your ability to develop new skills and to be dedicated to an employer. You should follow this format:
Title of Placement/Employment
Company, City, Country
MONTH/YEAR - MONTH/YEAR
(Start and end date of your placement/employment)
List your duties in bullet points. List at least 5 points.
The list of duties should be detailed. If you find it difficult to write this list, you can check out employment websites. Look for similar roles and check out the responsibilities that are listed. It might refresh your memory and help you write a more exhaustive list.
This list should remain factual. You should not put any judgement on the quality of your work, such as "excellent customer service".
Any volunteer experience shows your community involvement and is an asset to your resume. You can follow the format used above (work experience), but 2-3 bullet points would be enough to describe your responsibilities.
Think of 3 or 4 soft skills that truly describe yourself and that could be relevant to the type of placement you are applying for. For each of them, give an example of how you demonstrated this skill in the past (e.g. "excellent interpersonal skills, as demonstrated through 2 years of experience in customer service" or "strong time management and organisational skills developed through 5 years of successfully combining work and university studies").
Hobbies and Interests
This section of your resume is optional. Host companies like to know about your hobbies and interests, because it gives them more of an idea of the type of person that you are. Again, they should really describe yourself, and you should provide specific information.
If you practise a sport, since when have you been doing it? Are you part of a team? How often do you practice? If you like to paint, which type of medium do you use? Do you take classes? Have you won any awards/prizes? If you like reading, what is your favourite book or author? How many books do you read in one year? Etc.
No resume should end up without this part. You can put down the name of two references, including their name, company, phone, email, and relationship to you (e.g. Former Host Company Mentor/Current Employer, etc.).
By providing this information in your resume, you allow your interviewer to contact your referees, so you must ask for their authorisation to share their contact details. Also, you must inform them that you are in the process of interviewing for an placement, so they can expect to be contacted.
For a placement application, the length of your resume should be kept to two pages. However, three pages are acceptable if you have many relevant experiences.
The formatting must be consistent. The host companies will pick up on details, such as a space missing before or after a dash, or a change of font.
All words in the titles must start with a capital letter (example: Personal Attributes, instead of Personal attributes).
Do not copy and paste from any Professional Year template or friend's resume. Plagiarism is a very serious matter in Australia. Additionally, you should not worry about writing just "nice-sounding words" in your resume. It should be unique and reflect yourself.
You should never lie in your resume.
Check the spelling. A simple grammar mistake could cause you to miss out on a fantastic opportunity. You can avoid this by asking a native speaker (or two!) to proof-read the document.
Do some thinking. You probably have more experiences than you have listed so far. Have you included all volunteering experiences? Did you mention your promotions or achievements? How about the diplomas that are not related to your industry?
It is sometimes difficult to figure out what your main strengths are, but they must appear in your resume. Your family and close friends might be able to help you with this. Ask them what they believe you are good at, and they might come up with a long list of qualities that you would have never thought of spontaneously.
Your Professional Year trainer can provide you with a resume template, which might help you to get a better idea of what the final result should be, or you can ask for additional help after class. After updating your resume, you are welcome to attend one of Readygrad’s resume workshops which is free for PE's Professional Year students.